Over the years I’ve developed an approach for emailing C-level executives that has worked well for me. I thought I’d share some of that approach here. Here are 5 somewhat tactical tips:
1. Emails should be as short as Tweets. Write emails like you’re writing a Tweet. I think Outlook and Gmail should add a feature that shows a countdown from 400 for every character that you type – and if you go over 400 characters it won’t let you send the email. Unless absolutely necessary, keep your emails short enough to be read on an iPhone without scrolling.
2. Don’t worry about grammar and formalities. Marketers write perfect emails, people that do big deals don’t. Write short and quick and to the point. Here’s an example of what I mean.
Bad email: "Hi John, I’m writing to setup some time with you on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. I am participating in our company's board presentation this week and we are trying to lock down a couple of pieces of information about our potential partnership. I know that you are extremely busy, but It would be greatly appreciated if you could spare a few minutes so that we can discuss the details of our partnership. Please let me know the best way to setup a call. Kind Regards."
Better email: "Hi John, have 5 mins to chat this week? Have a board meeting coming up and need to get on the same page on two quick things. Thx."
3. Don't be afraid to resend. If you don't hear back, give it a few days. If you still don't hear back, take the initial email and forward it to the CEO and say something like, "Hi John, hope all is well. Following up on the below. Thx."
4. Make it easy to reply. If you have multiple asks in the email, separate them into multiple emails. Let them handle each email/task individually. Don’t let one task get stuck because the CEO doesn’t want to respond to the other.
5. Be their equal. Most important, write like you’re writing to a peer. Don’t be deferential. You are on equal levels. You both have something that can help the other – act like it. As I wrote a while back, don't be a salesperson.